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The Chobe River. My first encounter with her included the longest curtain of elephants I’d ever seen, elephants big and small crossing her width like proficient snorkellers seemingly unfettered by the crocodiles and hippos sticking their eyes out here and there. I thought my experience was unique. But such is the scene on the vast Chobe River most days. The Chobe is a favourite among Africa’s elephants (there are more here than anywhere else in the world). If you had to ask them, if you could get the magnificent creatures to stop mud-bathing on the banks for a second, they’d without doubt trumpet in agreement.
The Chobe meanders from west to east through the southern African landscape dividing Namibia and Botswana before it meets the Zambezi and tumbles with might over the fault line of the Victoria Falls. We sent our new Rhino Africa recruits, a team of eight fresh-faced consultants, off to explore the length of this lifeblood, from the Chobe to the Zambezi. I’ll be sharing their journey with you (in their words) in segments – with the first two days and photographs in today’s blog and more to follow in the days to come as they continue on to The Smoke That Thunders.
If you’ve ever wondered what a Chobe safari would be like these diary entries will guide you. Hopefully, all the way to the airport and onto the river for yourself. Enjoy…
Monday: 19 May – by Daisy
We were all excited for our first trip to Chobe, Botswana, and the Victoria Falls. The early morning flight didn’t really matter, as we all just wanted to get there. As we flew into Livingstone, we got teased with flashes of the Victoria Falls and spray, making us even more excited. We drove from Livingstone to the Kazangula border post from where we had a boat transfer across the river to Botswana. Botswana was our second country in one day. We all felt like real jet-setters. With everyone on our open-sided safari vehicle, we hit the road to Sanctuary Chobe Chilwero for our first night in Chobe.
A warm welcome awaited us as we reached our destination. As you step into the reception area, you can see the vast views of the flooded Chobe River and the little islands scattered around. We were whisked away for a sunset cruise where we saw a couple of ellies and animals on the river bank, followed by dinner and a glass of wine or two or three.
We woke up the next morning for our game drive, where we saw buffalo, impala, a leopard and many more birds and antelope and we all felt really chuffed that we could tick so many animals off our first game drive in Chobe.
The rooms at Chobe Chilwero are beautiful and spacious. The lodge oozes relaxation and tranquility; one just wants to stay longer and savour the feeling, but we had to hit the road again for our next gem.
The Team: Meet Chantal (far right)
Tuesday: 20 May – Chantal
Rise and shine! Our first game drive in Chobe. We were all so excited just to be in the bush but never expected to see a leopard relaxing in a tree overlooking his next morning snack… impalas. He jumped off and disappeared into the long grass. After a fantastic breakfast at Chobe Chilwero we headed into Kasane Town to take a look at the other great lodges in the region, Chobe Marina, Chobe Safari and Chobe Bush Lodge.
Off to our next adventure, we continued on to Chobe National Park and had a fantastic view of a Martial Eagle gazing into the distance. On arrival at Chobe Game Lodge we were greeted by the lovely Mytie, the Guest Relations Manager, and Vincent, the Marketing Executive. After check-in, Vincent showed us around the main deck where we were spoiled at the Champagne bar.
We spent a little while, just mesmerised by the beauty of the river. By this time you can imagine we were ready for lunch (not that we needed it). The variety of food on offer was fantastic and some of us even went back for a fourth helping. Chippo (“like Hippo”), our lovely guide, took us out on an afternoon river cruise. We loved listening to her stories while sipping on Gin and Tonics.
The elephant sightings were the best – we never wanted to leave. My personal favourite was one big ellie that rolled over onto his back with his feet sticking out of the water, before rolling back up again. The animals were having so much fun and were just too cute.
We came across one very entertaining hippo making a meal of the whole pond, with the reeds and lilies. Our stunning river cruise ended with the most majestic sunset.
The day wasn’t over yet. We arrived back to the lodge getting ready for our lovely bush dinner next to the Chobe River! To our surprise they had arranged a Marimba band to keep us entertained during dinner while we enjoyed an impala stew and veggies. As they would say in Afrikaans, “magie vol ogies toe” (your eyes get heavy when your stomach is full).
Another day in paradise ended with just the sounds of hippo in the background.
Wednesday: 21 May – Chantal
Chippo woke us up very early the next morning. I tried to ignore her and thought I could do with a little longer snooze, but she wasn’t fooled and phoned back very quickly to double check that I was awake (I guess this is what nine years’ experience does to you in the bush). We met at the lounge area for rusks and coffee. Shortly after, Chippo was ready to take us on our second game drive. Surely that can’t be another leopard? Yes! Another sighting. We were really spoiled and Chippo was extremely knowledgeable.
After a delicious breakfast John took us on an eco-tour in the back of house, showing us the great sustainable practices employed at the lodge.
Off we go onto our next adventure… Just another day in paradise!
The Team – on the deck at Chobe Game Lodge
In the next installment, our team of roving consultants heads on from Botswana to the Victoria Falls, from Zimbabwe to Zambia. Watch this space to follow their journey, with more diary entries and photos. Be sure to contact one of our consultants (they do sometimes stay in the office) to start planning your own African safari.
It is currently high season in Botswana, from June until October, with excellent game viewing available in most areas and very few mosquitoes to worry about. It’s best to book 8-10 months in advance to experience Botswana at this time of year, so consider doing so in August to make sure you get the best experience. Botswana is, however, great at other times of the year too, offering something different, such as an abundance of young wildlife sightings and migrant birdlife, lush green vegetation and spectacular thunder storms over the December period. Simply contact us to find out more.
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Tamlin has been exploring, writing about and photographing Africa ever since her first job as a photojournalist for Getaway Magazine. She's lived on an island, eaten with lions, sailed catamarans in the Indian Ocean, tracked wild dogs with Kinglsey Holgate, and white water rafted down the Zambezi and has kept just about every airplane ticket that has crossed her hands.
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